Olivia Wood is having an impressive campaign with Perth RedStar. The youngster spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about her footballing journey and life at the unbeaten NPL WA club who are in outstanding form (29/6/22).
Above: Olivia Wood in action against Hyundai NTC this season. Photo supplied by: Perth RedStar.
Olivia Wood experienced some of her earliest footballing moments in the relatively isolated city of Karratha, 950 miles north of Perth. These formative memories were influenced by her father.
“I have been in and around the game since I was little as my dad loved the game and wanted me to play. In Karratha. I was playing in country weeks and the local leagues for Nickol. After moving back to Perth I started off playing U10 at Joondalup United with the boys all the way through to U15 NPL at Joondalup City.
“After having a tough season, I thought having a go with girls would be fun and a change. This led me to the Northern Redbacks and joining their U16 team. I had a great season making new friends and had a great coach, Carlos Vega Mena, who got my passion back for the game.”
In terms of how she sees herself as a player, Wood states: “I’m always a player who is looking to improve and thrive on advice from others. I don’t take challenges lightly and always find a way to make things fun which I find is important for me to excel in the game. I consider myself a more attacking player, playing in position such as striker, central attacking midfielder or winger.”
The attacker is surrounded by a number of teammates who have played hundreds of games for the club over a long period of time. Having been part of the group for three years now, Wood has had a number of memorable experiences.
“I have had some great times here. From my first being the top goal scorer for the U16’s league, I think my most memorable achievement was the 2022 Night Series Cup. It was my first trophy and was really great to win and to see what it meant to the girls. It was a great ending to the Redbacks era, which I am lucky to have been a part of.
“It was a great game to be a part of and definitely a nail-biter. When Balcatta scored their two goals early on, I wasn’t really worried and I had a feeling we were going to come back. There was no real secret to the comeback other than belief and trust in each other.
“The team knew what we needed to do and after the break we came out calm and ready to work. After our first goal, we all realised we were still in the game, and after that it was down finishing our chances which the keeper did well to stop. I could definitely feel the third goal coming and knew we deserved it. The fourth goal was the icing on the cake and were ready for the final whistle after the hard fought 120 minutes.”
“The sense of community within the club is unmatched. I have made long lasting friendships with teammates and the support from younger teams is great to see. I always look forward to training as Carlos (Vega Mena, head coach) makes it fun and engaging and challenges us to be the best players we can be.”
That final game for the Northern Redbacks was a result of their merging with men’s side ECU Joondalup under the banner of Perth RedStar with the promise of greatly improved facilities. Wood sees many positives in the changes.
“There was definitely a mix of emotions at the start. It was sad on one hand to leave behind what was the Northern Redbacks, but I’m definitely excited to see what opportunities the new club holds. So far playing under the RedStar lights has been awesome, especially on super Saturdays where you can see many supporters in and around the grounds. Things are moving smoothly and can’t wait to see what the season has to offer for the club.”
“As a whole, I’m certain the club is going to have a great season. Our NPL sides have had a great start and can see this continuing throughout the season. Our aim as a club is bringing silverware home for our new name and getting the Perth RedStar name known around the leagues. For me personally, I think this season is trying to stay as consistent as I possibly can, and to learn from our experienced players in the team. I definitely would like to score some goals as I did in the pre-season.”
Wood sees positive developments on a much wider basis across the WA NPL women’s competition this season. “We have seen more and more media. With a new podcast detailing each round and with the Clutch TV partner, the NPL WA leagues are seeing greater media coverage. Clutch TV are making it more accessible for other states to watch the NPL WA games. I think the future is bright and I am glad to be a part of it.”